Sunday, February 8, 2004

LEDs may shine new light in homes: "It started innocently enough. Marcel Jean Vos, an interior and commercial designer in London, bought some light-emitting diodes to create a small lighting system in the kitchen of his apartment. Now, four years later, Vos has transformed a neighboring one-bedroom apartment into a space lighted entirely with LEDs, the solid-state technology more commonly associated with the tiny lights on electronic gadgets.

"The apartment has 360 LED arrays, and about 20 yards of plastic ribbons embedded with the glowing semiconductors. The lighting effects include a kitchen counter that changes color, an illuminated shower stall, a candle that has chips instead of a wick, and a light sculpture."

"Despite its enormous number of light fixtures, Vos' apartment uses no more electricity than four 100-watt incandescent bulbs would, he said. … But offsetting the frugality is the staggering cost of the installation. Vos estimated that he spent $50,000 to create the apartment's lighting system."

"About 20 percent of all electricity in the United States is used for lighting. A shift from bulbs to LEDs and other more efficient kinds of lighting could cut that percentage in half, easing the strain on power systems and reducing the chances of a blackout like the one that affected the northeastern United States and Canada last August."

"The incandescent bulb, which works by heating a thin metal filament so that it emits light, is also inefficient. About 90 percent to 95 percent of the electricity that goes into most incandescent bulbs is converted to heat rather than light."

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